William Susman's 'Scatter My Ashes' w/Octet Ensemble makes 'textura top cd's for 2014'
As always, the selections for this year's annual round-up were made in accordance with a simple principle: only those releases that were submitted to textura for review consideration during the year in question were deemed eligible. Shown below, then, are the recordings to which we repeatedly returned and which repeatedly rewarded that return (links to the original reviews are included in all cases).
Thoughts of minimalism come to mind as one listens to Octet Ensemble's Scatter My Ashes, the outfit's debut album featuring works by Octet founder William Susman, though perhaps not in the way one might expect. First of all, Susman would seem to be part of a post-minimalism generation of composers whose music suggests the influence of figures such as Reich and Glass without being overly beholden to it; stated otherwise, echoes of minimalism reverberate within Susman's music without holding it hostage. Secondly, the Octet Ensemble project is minimalistic in a more literal sense in its instrumental makeup, given that it functions as an orchestra but in miniature form with each multi-member orchestra section represented by a single player. Generally speaking, the material on Scatter My Ashes is resplendent and melodious, and easy to embrace when its fresh blend of neo-classical, jazz, and popular song-based forms sparkles so effervescently.